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John Hilton

Born 1804
Died 1878

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British surgeon and anatomist, born 1804, Castle Hedingham, Essex, died September 14, 1878, Hedingham House, Clapham.

Biography of John Hilton

John Hilton began his medical training at Guy's Hospital in London in 1824. He gained membership of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1827, and became demonstrator of anatomy at Guy's in 1828, only 24 years of age. In 1844 he was appointed assistant surgeon, full surgeon in 1849.

In 1859 Hilton was appointed professor of human anatomy and surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons College. In this position, during the years of 1860, 1861, and 1862, he gave a series of lectures on pain and the influence of physiological and mechanical rest in the treatment of surgical diseases. In 1867 he gave the Hunterian address/lecture. He was Surgeon-Extraordinary to the queen and president of the medical society, the pathological society, and the newly-founded Sydenham Society, and was president of the surgical section of the assembly of the British Medical Association in London in 1873.

Upon retirement in 1870 he was appointed consulting surgeon. He was active in the affairs of the Royal College of Surgeons and served on the council from 1854 until his death, serving as president in 1867, in which position he demonstrated large administrative and organisational talent. .

A very skilful observer and shrewd clinically, he could interest students in the most mundane topics and always managed to find some point overlooked by others so that he was highly regarded as a consultant. He was no scientist and opposed and ridiculed Darwin's ideas and although his rounds and lectures were always crowded, he was not liked by many students, whom he often hurt by sarcasm and jokes at their expense.

    «It would be well, I think, if the surgeon would fix upon his memory, as the first professional thought which should accompany him in the course of his daily occupation, this physiological truth - that Nature has a constant tendency to repair the injuries to which her structures may have been subjected, whether those injuries be the result of fatigue or exhaustion, of inflammation or accident. Also that this reparative power becomes at once most conspicuous when the disturbing cause has been removed: thus presenting to the consideration of the physician and surgeon a constantly recurring and sound principle for his guidance in his profession.» On Rest and Pain, Lecture 3.

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